While Senator John McCain appears to have smooth sailing to his presidential nomination late in the summer, the waters of the Hays County Republican Party appear choppy. Ron Paul supporter and county convention Paul delegate for precinct 334 Griffin T. Spell filed a complaint on April 28 with the Texas Republican Party alleging that the Hays County Temporary Nomination (TNC) Committee, which met on March 21, and the Hays County Permanent Nominations Committee (PNC), which met at the county convention on March 29, violated a party rule which stipulates that all meetings of committees and subcommittees have to be open to all delegates.
Spell alleges that the TNC meeting of March 21 “was a private meeting in a residence with the intention of keeping it a private meeting.” According to former hays County Republican Chair Linda Kinney, Spell “has filed a baseless complaint. Craig Young and Paul Velte asked to be at the meeting [of the PNC] so they knew about it ahead of time. We don’t have to post that meeting. It wasn’t like we failed to notify anyone.” Paul Velte says, “I think the complaint is valid because the meeting [of March 21] was not publicized at all in terms of committee membership, time, and place.”
The March 21 meeting of the TNC was held in the home of 83 year old Mary Joe Roddie who is a Wimberly precinct captain. The five members of the committee were Mary Joe Roddie, Harvey Bell, Johnna Cunningham, Robert Mooney, and Christie Pogue and they all attended the March 21 meeting. Six other people attended the TNC meeting and they were Craig Young, now Hays County Republican Party County Chair, Karakay Kovaly, Bud Wymore, Kathy Ogden, and former state representative Rick Green.
As then Republican Party County Chair, Linda Kinney opened the county party convention as temporary chair on March 29 but did not preside over the convention. Instead, Kinney appointed Tracie Upham temporary chair of the convention because she had worked for the party for over ten years and was a Paul supporter. the county convention then elected Upham permanent chair over Craig Young who had competed for the position.
According to Kinney, “the Permanent Nominations Committee and the Permanent Resolutions Committee both held their meetings on the stage in front of the entire county delegation” at the county convention of March 29.
Hays County has 35 delegates and 35 alternates for the State republican Convention scheduled to be held in June. In Hays County, Congressman Paul received an estimated 16.37% of the Republican primary vote on March 4. (State wide, Paul received approximately 5% of the vote). At the county convention, Paul supporters were elected to five of the delegate slots. According to some, the county convention had the votes to keep out all Paul supporters from delegate positions at the state party convention but elected some of the Paul supporters to be inclusionary.
Some Paul supporters believe they were excluded at the county convention. Sean Bolock, a long time San Marcos Ron Paul supporter said the county convention was a “sham and a shut out for Ron Paul delegates.” Velte agrees saying that “Paul supporters were pretty much shut out from being delegates to the state convention.”
There appears to have been concern on the part of some long time Hays County Republicans over the lack of sweat equity of many Paul supporters. According to some sources, many of the Paul delegates elected at the precinct caucus on March 4 were very new Hays County voters. Some had been registered to vote in Hays County for less than a year and other, less than six months, before the March 4 primary and caucus. On the other hand, Hays County Republican volunteers such as Kinney and Robert Mooney had been registered to vote in Hays County for over twenty and thirty years before the March 4 contests, respectively, for example.
According to Spell, Kinney told him that committee positions were reserved for experienced republicans only and that he wasn’t qualified. For Bolock, “the party shouldn’t tell the people who to vote for. The people are the voice of the party.”
The next step in the process of Spell’s complaint and all other complaints filed no later than the April 28 deadline, is for the Officials Committee of the State Republican Party to review the complaint. (The committee had thought it would review the complaints on May 9 but it has been receiving complaints with April 28th post marks as late as that date. According to Eric Opiela, Executive Director of the Texas Republican Party, if the officials committee decides that a complaint is not frivolous, then the complaint will be forwarded to the Temporary Committee on Credentials of the State republican Party.
An Officials Committee decision may be appealed by either side to the complaint by sending notice of an appeal ten (10) days prior to the opening of the state convention. The Temporary Credentials Committee tentatively is scheduled to meet on June 11. the Officials Committee will review all filed complaints sometime during the week of May 12-16.
Hays County Republican Chair and Paul supporter, Craig Young, could not be reached for comment for this story.
By ED MIHALKANIN, Ph.D